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Facelift begins on sagging center
Whitmore Plaza Shopping Center to get a new look
Center rehab
The facades of a shopping center were peeled back for rehabilitation work starting last week.

Construction began last week to revamp the Whitmore Plaza Shopping Center, located at the southwest corner of Whitmore Avenue and Mitchell Road, to give a new look and update its looks that date back to the 1970s.

The work has begun on the northeastern building. Customers of Delta Blood Bank, We Design Hair, Freeway Insurance and Checks Cashed will be able to access the places of business during construction through a temporary protective box-like opening.

Renovation of the center started with a new facade for the Bank of America building.

The center has suffered from a number of significant vacancies and a façade change is expected to rejuvenate the center and create more interest among prospective tenants. Empty spaces exist where Round Table Pizza was in the 1990s and the former Rite Aid space that was vacated to go farther north on Mitchell Road. The remodel is intended to give the center a modern look in an effort to become more attractive to shoppers.

Tom Westbrook, the city's director of Community Development said the façades look as dated as the late 1970s when the center was built. Laminated wood used in some of the façade is coming apart and suffering from dry rot and peeling paint. It will have the look of a brand-new shopping center once completed, he said.

Save Mart plans to relocate from its existing store location and shift to the vacant space to the east that once was occupied by Rite Aid. Plans are also to enclose the former Rite Aid garden area next to the Bank of America and be included in the new Save Mart store. The move will expand the size of Save Mart which is gearing up for the possibility of competition when the Walmart Supercenter is built.

The work includes removing the sections and overhangs that jut out and adding a cedar-colored horizontal cement lap siding with metal shade canopies, and vertical corrugated metal accents. Different colors will be added to stucco finish, including Norfolk cream, Texas Sage, Kendall Charcoal and Tucson Red.

The last construction in the center occurred when Cruisers and Prime Shine Car Wash opened last year after the leveling of Barbour's Save Center. In 2003 Taco Bell tore down its old building to rebuild the newer restaurant to the east.